A New Era for Green Bank Observatory, Dr. James M. Jackson Named Director

Dr. James M. Jackson pictured with the Green Bank Telescope, photographed on a trip in 2017.

The Green Bank Observatory (GBO) enters a new era of leadership in October. Dr. James M. Jackson, an internationally known astrophysicist, has accepted the role of director. 

After serving as director for 15 years, Dr. Karen O’Neil will join the scientific staff. O’Neil has led the Observatory since 2006, including overseeing the separation from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the successful transition to Green Bank Observatory in 2016. She looks forward to being a longstanding member of the Observatory staff and being a vital part of its continued growth. 


New image captures galaxy cluster emerging from cosmic web

The tumultuous evolution of a galaxy cluster captured close to its formation in the cosmic web
Composite image using MUSTANG-2, Chandra, and SDSS data. The faint red glow shows the hot gas at large radii. galaxies present in MUSTANG-2 and Chandra appear as point sources (in magenta) and density of the comparatively cool gas (in blue); galaxies in optical (SDSS) data are in the foreground. Credit: Phillip Cigan/Stefano Andreon/Charles Romero 

An international team of astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in Green Bank, West Virginia, and the NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have captured a snapshot of a massive galaxy cluster, very close to the epoch when it began to emerge from the cosmic web.


Massive Invisible Galactic Structure is Discovered – By Accident

Incredibly sensitive spectral observations from the Green Bank Telescope discover previously unknown huge Galactic structure

1-4: Typical narrow-line emission from the OH molecule from spiral arms. 5: A new, broad, and faint structure from the OH molecule–in and between the spiral arms. Credit: NSF/GBO/P.Vosteen

When it comes to the Universe, there is more than meets the eye. Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have discovered a massive, previously unknown structure in our Galaxy. This discovery was so unexpected, additional observations were taken using the Green Bank Observatory’s 20-meter Telescope to confirm the data. 


How long is a day on Venus? Scientists crack mysteries of our closest neighbor

Fundamentals such as how many hours are in a Venusian day provide critical data for understanding the divergent histories of Venus and Earth, UCLA researchers say. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Venus is an enigma. It’s the planet next door and yet reveals little about itself. An opaque blanket of clouds smothers a harsh landscape pelted by acid rain and baked at temperatures that can liquify lead.

Now, new observations from the safety of Earth are lifting the veil on some of Venus’ most basic properties. By repeatedly bouncing radar off the planet’s surface over the last 15 years, a UCLA-led team has pinned down the precise length of a day on Venus, the tilt of its axis and the size of its core. The findings are published today in the journal Nature Astronomy.


New astronomical survey utilizes the Green Bank Telescope to give clearest view of ionized gas in the Milky Way

The Green Bank Telescope with a dark sky of stars.

Astronomical surveys mapping regions of the Galaxy have been collected and studied for decades. These surveys allow researchers to compare previous data, further characterize objects or images of the sky, and learn more through statistical analysis.  For the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) Diffuse Ionized Gas Survey (GDIGS), researchers took advantage of the power of the GBT, located in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, to better understand the impact of massive stars in the Milky Way.


West Virginia Students Contact International Space Station LIVE

How would you feel if you could talk to an astronaut, orbiting over 200-miles above you in space?

Friday, May 7th at 8:00 AM EDT, students in rural West Virginia will experience this once in a lifetime opportunity. Green Bank Elementary-Middle School (GBEMS) will be contacting astronaut Mark Vande Hei on the International Space Station (ISS).

Green Bank Elementary Middle School sits in the shadow of the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope, the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. Photo credits NSF/GBO/Jill Malusky.

Can Green Bank Telescope Defend Against Asteroid Apophis?

This image is taken from an animation showing the distance between the Apophis asteroid and Earth at the time of the asteroid’s closest approach. The blue dots are the many man-made satellites that orbit our planet, and the pink represents the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) is teaming up with NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex (GDSCC) to observe this potentially hazardous asteroid. These new observations of Apophis will allow scientists to improve their understanding of the asteroid’s orbit, and better estimate the odds that Apophis could strike the Earth in the future. Predicting if there is a real chance of impact, decades ahead of time, gives scientists the opportunity to take action to manipulate the orbit of Apophis to avoid a collision in the future.


NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover landing observed by the Green Bank Telescope

NSF/GBO/JPL/NASA/Amber Bonsall

This “waterfall image” is actually three separate observations combined to show NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover as it enters the Martian atmosphere before touching down on the red planet. Green Bank Observatory Data Analyst Amber Bonsall created this image using data received by the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). The GBT was pointed at Mars to observe communications from the rover as it landed February 18th, 2021 at 3:55 p.m. EDT.


NASA Mars Rover Touches Down, Green Bank Telescope Receives Signal

The Green Bank Telescope’s Part in the NASA Perseverance Mars Rover Landing

Green Bank Observatory scientist Will Armentrout and data analyst Amber Bonsall staffed the GBT control room during Perseverance’s touchdown. This image is taken from the Observatory’s livestream coverage.

GREEN BANK, WEST VIRGINIA  –  Cheers could be heard throughout the Green Bank Observatory as NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover successfully touched down on the red planet Thursday, February 18th, at 3:55 p.m. EDT. The National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT) helped relay communications from the rover to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) located in southern California.


Mars Rover Phones Home, Green Bank Telescope Answers

West Virginia’s Role in the NASA Perseverance Mars Rover Landing

The National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope (GBT), located in Green Bank, West Virginia, plays a role in the upcoming mission of the NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. The GBT will receive communications from the rover as it arrives on Mars on February 18th and pass these on to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) located in southern California.


Volunteers Build Bird Boxes to Support Local Ecosystems & Citizen Science

This past spring, the Green Bank Observatory and the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area hosted an event with the Deer Creek Defenders 4-H club to build nesting boxes for the Green Bank and Arborvale bird population. This project was managed by AmeriCorp staffer Joe Medica.

Volunteers and their bird boxes, Joe Medica pictured top right.

Celebrate the Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse at Green Bank Observatory

A Blood Moon eclipse, image credit NASA.

Sunday, May 15th a total lunar eclipse of a supermoon will be visible to most of us in West Virginia (weather permitting) between the hours of 10:30pm and 2am Eastern Time. The start and end of the lunar eclipse’s ‘totality’ is between 11:30pm and 1am. No special equipment is needed to view a lunar eclipse, although an optical telescope or binoculars can make it more exciting!


Future of Earth’s Defense is Ground-based Planetary Radar

Green Bank Telescope will be largest fully steerable antenna in the world capable of transmitting radar signals for research

A new radar system being developed by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the Green Bank Observatory will transmit powerful radar signals from the Green Bank Telescope (top right panel) and, in this illustration, bounce those signals off the Moon (middle right). The reflected signal can be received by antennas of the Very Long Baseline Array, in various locations across the U.S., Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands (bottom right). The combination of antennas acts as a giant, high-resolution radar imaging system.
Credit: Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF.


Powerful radar systems have played a major role in the study of planets, moons, asteroids, and other objects in our Solar System for several decades, and now have a “unique role” to play in planetary defense – “providing protection to the nations of the world from devastating asteroid and comet impacts,” according to the newly released Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) are developing new capabilities for the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) that will make them key instruments for meeting this need.